Amazon is one of the largest and wealthiest American corporations on the planet. Even with an estimated $1 trillion market valuation, the multinational conglomerate founded by billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos has been accused of unfair treatment of its workforce.
As a result, some Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama are pushing their co-workers to join the 100,000-member Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union as a way to ensure the company recognizes worker’s rights through collective bargaining. Reportedly, the tech and retail giant is aggressively trying to defeat that union drive.
The roughly 6,000 Amazon workers in Bessemer are expected to vote next week on whether to unionize as part of the RWDSU. Former presidential candidate and current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an avid supporter of unionization, is traveling to the southern city on Friday as part of an open press event with the Amazon workers and RWDSU member-organizers.
Sanders will be joined by his longtime political partner, Hip Hop recording artist Michael “Killer Mike” Render. Lethal Weapon actor/progressive activist Danny Glover will also be in attendance at the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union headquarters in Birmingham on Friday, March 26.
If the employees at the Bessemer fulfillment center choose to be represented by the RWDSU, it would mark the first time Amazon warehouse workers have joined a union in America. That development could spark public pressure on politicians and corporate executives to address the growing wage gap in the nation. Sanders invited Jeff Bezos to testify at a recent U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing focusing on inequality, but the Amazon CEO declined to appear.
President Joe Biden has also shown support for the union drive in Bessemer. On February 28, Biden posted a video message on social media about unionization efforts. His accompanying tweet read, “Workers in Alabama – and all across America – are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers. Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.”
I stand in solidarity with Amazon workers in Alabama who are today beginning to vote in a historic union election.
If they win, it will not only improve wages and working conditions in Bessemer, but it will also send a shockwave around the country.https://t.co/namvkT16zx
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 8, 2021
Workers in Alabama – and all across America – are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.
Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. pic.twitter.com/2lzbyyii1g
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 1, 2021